Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Exploring My Family Tree: Not Forgotten - Part Three

On the fifth attempt on August 9, 1917, Victor was finally accepted for service in the 106th Aero Repair Squadron at Des Moines. He procured a waiver from Washington, D.C., and was sworn in on August 15th in Denver, Colorado and sent to Kelly Field, Texas. He remained there, I presume for basic training until October 28th when he was transferred to Garden City, New York and shortly there after a multi-stop trip overseas that finally landed him at Liverpool, England on Christmas morning and France four days later. He spent much of the next year between Camp De Coetquidan which was 45 miles inland from St. Nazaire and Camp Neucon where the 1rst and 4th aero observation schools were maintained.

I suppose whatever prevented him from joining the military the first four attempts prevented Victor from seeing the front lines much to his dismay. In a letter home he wrote, "It makes a fellow rather restless when he reads of what the boys are doing at the front and what they are putting up with and then to think that I have been over here almost a year and every time I move they send me farther from the front and every day the front is getting farther from me. I guess the only way I will ever be able to see the front will be to put in a request for a pass to Berlin. It would be as easy as trying to get there as a combatant."

As winter approached, Victor mused in letters that he should be on the first boats home since he was near a port but time and time again he was left behind. He requested that his parents "write encouraging letters if you have to stretch your imagination and the truth to do it, as circumstances alter cases and anything is fair in war." Victor spent another Christmas overseas and voiced his displeasure in a poem written to the local newspaper back home.

As the Boys "Over There" View It
An Answer to Mr. Taft

There is gloom, despair and sadness in the A.E.F. today,
For Taft, "The Obese Tribune," has had his little say;
"Empty all the training camps, let the last called go home,
But keep the real crusaders far across the briny foam.
Let them shoulder pick and shovel for a couple short years more,
They are easy marks, these heroes, and they surely won't get sore.
Let their mothers, wives and sweethearts wait, of men we have a plenty,
And, besides, it might go hard with us along in nineteen twenty."
And so rambled along like that, it certainly is amusing,
To hear a former president his hero friends abusing;
For well he knows the yearnings of a heart so far from home,
Or else he's positively dense and ratty in the dome.
We signed for the "duration" and not two years aft;
And if you think it is proper, why come over, Mr. Taft.
There is lots of room for statesmen now: the soldier's done his part,
This is our solemn answer: this is the men's retort.
So prove you're truly human, Bill, and start right now to pack,
So you can help out over here, and let the boys go back.

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